Saturday, November 07, 2015

Can Inanimate Realms Show the Way

A monk asked, "Can inanminate things expound Dharma?"
Daopi said, "The jade dog roams at night, never knowing the daylight."

"Zen Master Yunmen Wenyan (864-949 CE) once took his staff and struck a pillar in the hall, saying, "Are the three vehicles and twelve divisions of scripture talking?"
He then answered himself by saying, "No, they're not talking."
Then he shouted, "Bah!  A wild fox spirit!"
A monk asked, "What does the master mean?"
Yunmen said, "Mr. Shang drinks the wine, and Mr. Li gets drunk."

"In the works of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman in particular, nature is portrayed as a beneficent living force that can, if studied and understood through careful and intentional reflection, offer enduring lessons about what it means to be human. In “Self-Reliance,” and the main ideas behind Thoreau’s “Walden”, as well as “Leaves of Grass”, the respective authors are deeply reverent of nature, and it is through their intimate relationship with the natural world that they construct their own identities and their philosophies about how to live a right life in the natural world. For Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, nature is viewed as possessing all the knowledge that man needs to know, if only he is attentive and willing enough to study its messages and apply them to his life."
-  Nicole Smith, The Role of Nature in Transcendental Poetry

Yunmen said, "A true person of the Way can speak fire without burning his mouth.  He can speak all day with moving his lips and teeth or uttering a word.  The entire day he just wears his clothes and eats his food, but never comes in contact with a single grain of rice or thread of cloth.
When we speak in this fashion it is jut the manner of our school.  It must be set forth like this to be realized.  But if you meet a true patch-robed monk of our school and try to reveal the essence through words, it will be a waste of time and effort.  Even if you get some great understanding by means of a single word you are still just dozing."

"Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings."  Translated by Any Ferguson.  Boston, Wisdom Publications, 2000, p. 262.  

Way of the Short Staff.  By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.  A comprehensive guide to the practice of the short staff, cane, jo, walking stick, gun, zhang, whip staff, 13 Hands Staff, and related wood short staff weapons.  A detailed and annotated guide, bibliographies, lists of links, resources, instructional media, online videos, and lessons.   Includes use of the short staff and cane in martial arts, self-defense, walking and hiking.  Separate sections on Aikido Jo, Cane, Taijiquan cane and staff, Jodo, exercises with a short staff, selected quotations, techniques, selecting and purchasing a short staff, tips and suggestions, and a long section on the lore, legends, and magick of the short staff.  Includes "Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way."  Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California.  Updated on a regular basis since October, 2008.  Filesize: 265Kb.  Related to Mike's popular webpage on the Staff.

"Zhaozhou, who had been in poor health, asked his friend Miao Zhang, "Do the bees have Buddha nature?"  Miao Zhang smiled and said, "The roses are so fragrant today, and the cherries so sweet.  Let's walk in the garden and leave our crutches behind." 

    Gathering together in an orchard of blooming sweet lime trees, the students waited for their esteemed teacher, Kasyapa.  Slowly walking down the dirt path, relying on his danda walking staff for balance, Kasyapa joined his students.  He sat quietly for a long time, enjoying the fragrance of the lime blossoms.  Finally, he raised his danda staff.  Everyone stared at Kasyapa - serious, intent, focused, and silent.  Only Shifu Miao Zhang smiled, and then lifted his cane and pointed at a lime blossom.  Kasyapa pointed his danda at Shifu Zhang.  Another transmission was completed.  The sacred thread remained unbroken."
- Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way


Hakuin's Dragon Staff Inka Scroll

Zen Master Hakuin (1686-1768) painted a Dragon Staff with a horsehair whisk attached.  He gave the above painting to a lay student who passed the Zen koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping." 

Lately, during Stoic Week exercises, I have read the words of Hellenistic Stoics reminding us to follow nature, be true to our nature, live in accordance with our nature, study nature, accept the limitiations placed on us by our appearance in the natural world, align ourselves with Nature and Fate (Zeus, Gods, Immanent).  My hypertext notebook on Stoicism reflects some of my reading and research on various "Stoic Spiritual Exercises."

I take off at daybreak, doing a long walk, my cane in my hand, energized in the chill of Autumn.  

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